MINELRES: Romania: Ethnic Minority Briefs No. 80

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.delfi.lv
Wed Nov 26 09:34:19 2003


Original sender: Divers Buletin <edivers_buletin-admin@mediafax.ro>  


No. 80 / November 24, 2003 
  
DIVERS
- reporting ethnic diversity - 
 
SUMMARY
 

1. UKRAINE COMPLAINS ABOUT ROMANIAN TREATMENT OF UKRAINIAN MINORITY
2. LOCAL COURT RULES LIBERTY STATUE CANNOT BE REERECTED ON ORIGINAL SITE
3. NATIONAL SZEKLER COUNCIL RELEASES AUTONOMY PROJECT
4. J. SCHEELE DEEMS THAT ETHNICAL CRITERIA-SETTLED REGIONS DO NOT STAND
FOR A SOLUTION IN ROMANIA
5. UDMR ANNOUNCES LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE ON MINORITIES' STATUTE
6. PROJECT FOR NEW TV MAGYAR STATION IN ARDEAL
7. RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PRESENTS PLAN FOR MOLDOVA'S FEDERALIZATION 

FEATURE
8. ROMANIANS LEARN HARD LESSON 
 

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UKRAINE COMPLAINS ABOUT ROMANIAN TREATMENT OF UKRAINIAN MINORITY
BUCHAREST - Visiting Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn
said on 13 November after talks with Romanian Senate Chairman Nicolae
Vacaroiu that Romania does "too little" for its Ukrainian minority,
Mediafax reported. Lytvyn said there is only one Ukrainian high school
in Romania, which has neither a library nor a reading room. In
comparison, he said, in Ukraine there are 94 schools where teaching is
in Romanian, and several universities in Ukraine prepare
Romanian-language teachers to serve in those schools, all of which are
permanently provided with Romanian-language books. Vacaroiu said in
reply that Romania respects the rights of national minorities and has
been commended for it by the Council of Europe. Lytvyn was also received
by Premier Adrian Nastase, who said he hopes the Romanian Senate will
ratify the basic treaty between the two countries by the end of this
year. (DIVERS) 
 
summary 

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LOCAL COURT RULES LIBERTY STATUE CANNOT BE REERECTED ON ORIGINAL SITE
ARAD - A local tribunal recently ruled that the controversial Liberty
Statue cannot be reerected on the square where it originally stood and
that the proposal to reerect the statue in a park in Arad (western
Romania) is not a viable compromise solution to the dispute RFE Newsline
reported on 17 November. The tribunal based its ruling on the Oradea
Territorial Construction Inspectorate's recent decision to halt the
reerection of the monument on the grounds that the Culture Ministry has
not authorized the project. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR) has appealed the inspectorate’s decision. UDMR
parliamentary deputy Laszlo Borbely described the tribunal's ruling as
"obviously political" and said the UDMR has canceled a meeting with the
ruling PSD at which the two parties were to discuss the future of their
cooperation agreement. (DIVERS) 
 
summary 

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NATIONAL SZEKLER COUNCIL RELEASES AUTONOMY PROJECT
SFINTU-GHEORGHE - The permanent commission of the recently established
Szekler National Council on 13 November published a Romanian-language
version of a draft law on the autonomy of the envisaged Szekler region,
RFE reported. The commission said it did so in order to demonstrate that
the setting up of the autonomous region would not affect Romania's
territorial integrity and that Romanian legislation will be respected in
the region. The commission also said the draft is to be submitted for
approval of its members on 6 January. If approved, it would be forwarded
to the Romanian parliament as draft legislation. The envisaged
autonomous region would include the Covasna, Harghita, and Mures
counties in Transylvania. 
(DIVERS)  
summary  

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J. SCHEELE DEEMS THAT ETHNICAL CRITERIA-SETTLED REGIONS DO NOT STAND FOR
A SOLUTION IN ROMANIA
CLUJ-NAPOCA – The establishment of regions on ethnical criteria does not
represent a solution for Romania, stated on Monday November 17, part in
a debate held with the students of Faculty of European Studies, Jonathan
Scheele, head of European Commission’s Delegation in Bucharest.
Referring to the intention of setting up Tinutului Secuiesc area
(Szeckler Land), Scheele said that any decision as regards territory
reorganization should be accounted after having many talks. "It is
dangerous such a distribution into ethnical regions. It is unfortunate
if ethnical rationalism prevails the development ", stated the European
diplomat. According to him, the more changes take place in territorial
and administrative organization, the more problems will show up.
Jonathan Scheele also added that the decision will finally belong to
Romania, but it is necessary a national debate, not a political one.
(DIVERS) 
 
summary 

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UDMR ANNOUNCES LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE ON MINORITIES' STATUTE
CLUJ-NAPOCA - The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR)
Senator Peter Eckstein-Kovacs announced on 16 November that his
formation will launch an "electoral initiative" to gather signatures in
favor of having parliament legislate a Minority Status in Romania, RFE
reported. Eckstein-Kovacs said the status should include all pertinent
legislation already approved by parliament, as well as new provisions
including a definition of the term "national minority" and the
requirements for obtaining that status. Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime
Minister Peter Medgyessy announced in Budapest on 14 November after
meeting with UDMR Chairman Bela Marko that a Hungarian-language
television channel might begin broadcasting in Transylvania from
mid-2004. Medgyessy said working groups of the Hungarian government and
the UDMR will examine ways to abide by legislation in force in Romania
and Hungary and to find a formula under which the planned station could
be financed by Budapest. (DIVERS) 
 
summary 

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PROJECT FOR NEW TV MAGYAR STATION IN ARDEAL
CLUJ-NAPOCA - In Transylvania area shortly a new TV station in Magyar
language could be established with the help of government from Budapest.
The topic was debated also in UDMR’s executive presidium reunion, taking
place last week, where it was analyzed even the condition of Magyar
minority in the context after adopting the new Constitution. UDMR
chairman, Marko Bela, stated that he was assured by Hungarian premier
Peter Medgyessy to establish the TV station because a media institution
for Magyar community in Transylvania is necessary. The UDMR leaders
decided that shortly to be settled the frame, the concept and the
resources based on which the license for the new TV station to be
obtained. (DIVERS) 
 
summary 

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RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PRESENTS PLAN FOR MOLDOVA'S FEDERALIZATION
MOSCOW -- The president of Moldova welcomed a plan proposed last week by
Russia to settle a dispute between Moldova and its breakaway region of
Transdniester. The plan calls for Moldova to become a demilitarized
federation in which Transdniester would have special status. The
federation would recognize Russian and Romanian as official languages,
said Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin. The plan calls for the country
to vote on a new constitution in October 2004. Russia presented the plan
to Moldova and Transdniester and to fellow mediators Ukraine and the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 1990
Russian-speaking Transdniester declared independence from then-Soviet
Moldova. Moldovan forces and separatists fought a short war in 1992 that
ended when Russian troops imposed a truce. The two sides have yet to
reach an agreement on the status of the region, where some 2,500 Russian
soldiers are still based. 
 
summary 

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FEATURE  
 
ROMANIANS LEARN HARD LESSON
By Grig Davidovitz for Haaretz
The audience in classroom 17 at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial
institution in Jerusalem heard a difficult lecture last Wednesday. The
speaker: Dr. Jean Ancel, an Israeli scholar who had recently completed a
comprehensive study of the Holocaust of Romanian Jews. The audience:
seven young Romanian politicians participating in a week-long seminar at
Yad Vashem.
In fluent Romanian, Ancel related in a monotone the horrors suffered by
Romania's Jews during World War II. Most of his findings were based on
official Romanian documents and from time to time he presented a
photocopy of a document from which he quoted.
"Jews who cannot hold up should be estroyed," Ancel quoted from orders
given before the death marches to Transylvania. "Every 10 kilometers,
those who cannot keep up should be shot and their bodies smoked." The
young audience in classroom 17 is one result of the reconciliation
initiated by Romania after its government stated last June that there
had been "no Holocaust in Romania," and after President Ion Iliescu told
Haaretz in July that the Holocaust was not specific to the Jewish
people. As a result of pressure from Israel, Yad Vashem, and Jewish
communities throughout the world, a committee of historians was
established in Romania, a Holocaust memorial day instituted, and this
seminar scheduled. Bucharest financed the flights to Israel and Yad
Vashem covered the cost of the accommodations and the seminar. In his
lecture, Ancel also mentioned Romanian farmers. "Those who applied the
`cleansing of the area' [the Romanian term for operations against the
Jews] were not fascists but classic Romanians." Ancel told of cases in
which "a Romanian farmer would select a Jew, agree on a price with a
policeman, and then the policeman would shoot the Jew and allow the
farmer to take the clothes." In his concluding remarks, Ancel noted that
during the World War II regime of Ion Antonescu between 410,000 and
420,000 Jews were murdered by Romania, including 180,000 Ukrainian Jews.
Only during the last few minutes of his lecture did Ancel note the
change that took place in the Antonescu regime. "I wrote with no shame,"
said Ancel, "that between April 1942 and August 1944 (when the Soviet
Union reached Romania), Antonescu's regime began to defend the Jews
against the Nazis." But he quickly explained the change did not come
about from humanitarian motives, but rather in the hope of improving
relations with the West.
The class found it hard to listen to Ancel's recitation. They moved
restlessly in their seats, exchanging glances, whispering, and walking
in and out of the room. Gianina Puscasu, one of the three
representatives of Romania's ruling Social-Democratic party, said: "It
is hard to hear such terrible things about your country. They are
written, they cannot be denied, but if anyone presents this information
in Romania, he will be ostracized." Puscasu was angry about the way the
data was presented. "Dr. Ancel emphasized the black part and very much
hid the good. Every people has its black periods of history." Maria
Parparita, another participant, also found it difficult to listen to
Ancel. "He presented everything that happened in Romania as if Romania
was responsible for everything that happened to the Jews in the world."
Daniel Dragnea, a 25-year-old lawyer, and a member of a prime
ministerial advisory council, said: "We were not told there was a
Holocaust and we were not told there was not. I think - and I am not
sure - that they did not want to connect the Holocaust with the Romanian
people. The intent was perhaps good, but the result was not good."
Puscasu and Dragnea think the teaching of the Holocaust in Romania must
be gradual or "society will reject it," Puscasu said. Bogdan Pascu,
another participant, said, "I do not know if the subject should be
taught in school. It should be related to from afar, without feeling,
without passion." Is Romania interested in the Holocaust now to please
Israel, which it considers a world power? "I would be a hypocrite if I
said that all that matters is truth, science, and philosophy," Dragnea
said. "These are all important, but so are our political and economic
relationships. The Romanians working in Israel bring millions of dollars
to Romania. How can we give this up? I take the responsibility to go to
my country and to explain the truth to my Romanians. I will tell them,
`folks, the tragedy did happen. There is no reason to argue when it is
possible to make peace.' "From a learning perspective, I understand the
Jews, their history, their drama. >From a tourist perspective," Dragnea
continued, "I was impressed with two things: the visit to the Children's
Memorial at Yad Vashem and the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus walked, where
he was crucified. These are things that many Romanians want to see. I
have relatives who will be as happy as children because I will bring
them soil from the Holy Land." The young people's attitude toward the
Holocaust seems very pragmatic. It is not an inner impulse to learn a
chapter of history that has been hidden until now. It is important to
them in order to remove an obstacle in Romanian-Israeli relations, and
because the trip to Israel was an experience they could not otherwise
have had. "This trip was the best and most important experience I had in
my life," Dragnea said. 
 
summary 

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DIVERS is a weekly news bulletin edited by the Mediafax News Agency with
financial support from 
Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center (EDRC) in Cluj.
For now, the full version of the bulletin is only available in Romanian
and can be found at www.divers.ro
e-mail: divers@mediafax.ro